A column about roleplaying
by Robin D. Laws
The series frameworks for The Yellow King Roleplaying Game continue with a dive into ideas for your Aftermath game.
Check out previous installments: Paris Part One and Part Two, and The Wars, Part One and Part Two.
As before, treat this as a starter for your own way of doing things rather than a pattern you have to follow to do it right. Give yourself room to find ideas that respond to the players and their characters as they develop throughout the series.
The Aftermath sequence already offers a device to inspire episodes, the group’s political Goal. You can use this in two directions:
- At the end of each episode, ask players what they want to do next to pursue the Goal. Then scan the episode types here and in the next installment to find one featuring an obstacle that would stand in their way.
- Pick an episode type, developing the premise so that it ties into the goal.
Accordingly, these articles include more episode types than you’ll likely want to run, allowing you to select the ones that fit the Goal and your story so far. Some entries assume you’ve run Paris and The Wars; obviously you’ll ignore these if you’re only running Aftermath.
If you haven’t run, and your players haven’t read, “Sleeping Dogs,” the introductory scenario in the book, do that. It’s introductory! Otherwise, Revanchists, below, makes the clearest starting point.
A fugitive cell of former security police turns insurgent tactics against the provisional authority, attacking the interests of a potential ally of the player characters as they pursue their Goal. The counter-revolutionaries use parageometry to pull off the attack, and to cover their tracks after the getaway. For added interest, the leader of the cell formerly hunted, and possibly at one time arrested, interrogated and tortured one or more of the PCs.
Some say all of the Carcosans were sucked back through the gates to their alien world when the revolution blew them up. The ex-insurgents probably don’t believe that, and aren’t surprised to hear rumors that a recent bank truck hijacking was masterminded by one of the skull-faced inhuman nobles. Is it true, and if so, is the Carcosan planning to claim a piece of organized crime, or financing future operations against the new regime?
This scenario can set up the shadowy Carcosan as a running villain for this series.
Memories of the Revolution
A case with roots in pre-Revolutionary events brings in one of the characters’ Worst Memories. One of them has likely chosen something terrible they did, accidentally or because the ends justifies the means. Choose that one. For example, if the character at one time acted as a regime informant, people who also filed reports with the same Huss officer are now being bumped off. Structure the episode so that the character must decide whether to keep the secret buried, or come clean with his comrades.
Turning the Page
Everyday citizens turn to weird tech or parageometry to put the horrors of the revolution behind them. The ex-insurgents won’t need to be pushed to suspect sinister intent. Still, the mystery raises the question: should people be allowed to forget the worst of their own recent stories, or does democracy depend on remembrance of sacrifice, and the atrocities that demanded it?
Create a mystery in which the actions of the Paris characters, either in 1895 or in their subsequent careers, forms part of the historical backstory.
Or do what I did in my own game, and insert a flashback episode in which the players pick up their previous characters again, with the mystery that week laying the groundwork for an Aftermath sequel the next. I had the somewhat older and not necessarily wiser PCs fighting Carcosan influence amid the Great Chicago Fire of 1925.
Assigned to hunt for an escaped regime figure, the group discovers that one of their trusted past allies, a hero of the revolution, was a Huss deep cover agent all along. He is now helping her old boss flee the country. With true colors exposed, the turncoat can now freely use mutant creatures, parageometry or weird weapons to give the characters the treatment she thinks they always deserved.
Married to the Gun
Unable to cope with the boredom of civilian existence, and trained and armed to the teeth, past allies in the revolution break bad by setting themselves up as a crime crew. When the ex-insurgents go after them, they discover that they have patrons in the new government. Do they let their old pals off easily? Or do they trade in their past association, gaining an advantage that moves them toward their political Goal?
Gate Reopening Fake-Out
The victorious revolutionaries fear one eventuality more than any other: the reopening of the gates that allowed the free flow of sorcerous energy and alien beings to this world. Someone the group was depending on to further its Goal is murdered. As they investigate, they discover an apparent plot to heal the shattered gates. In the end it turns out to be a scam, run by opportunistic criminals fleecing a group of rich Castaignites hoping to regain their former parageometrical fringe benefits. These might be eternal youth, now-fading physical beauty plastic surgeons can’t match, or a Carcosan drug more intense than any earthly intoxicant. Though the scammers picked the wrong victims, they also hurt innocent people along the way, and need to be taken down with the force ex-insurgents specialize in.
The Yellow King Roleplaying Game takes you on a brain-bending spiral through multiple selves and timelines, pitting characters against the reality-altering horror of The King in Yellow. When read, this suppressed play invites madness, and remolds our world into a colony of the alien planet Carcosa. Four core books, served up together in a beautiful slipcase, confront layers with an epic journey into horror in four alternate-reality settings: Belle Epoque Paris, The Wars, Aftermath, and This Is Normal Now. Purchase The Yellow King Roleplaying Game in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.